Life Transitions & Career Changes: My Top 3 Tips for Making the Shift Easier

Many of our clients seek us out as a result of a major life change. Most are experiencing several big changes in a short period of time such as divorce, the death of a loved one, downsizing and relocating, unemployment or starting a new job, etc.  Often these changes throw a person’s organizing systems into chaos adding to the overwhelm they already find themselves trying to navigate. We help to tweak, modify, or create a whole new system based on the effects created by these life changes. 

I came into professional organizing as a result of continuous downsizing at my company, where I worked in HR for 16 years.  I became a massage therapist part-time as a complement to my organizing work; I already had my certification and license, so that transition was a little easier although it certainly affected how I was managing my time and new requirements on how to track things for business and tax purposes.

Any change can be difficult, so if you are considering a shift in career, whether by choice and intentional or forced due to layoffs, the economy, or minor/major life events,  here’s my top 3 tips to help make your transition easier…

Be Patient & Kind to Yourself

Being gentle with yourself is important. Even if it is your choice to change careers, the process can be overwhelming and seem uncertain at times.  You may feel conflicting emotions – frustrated, frightened, angry (if circumstances are beyond your control), excited, energetic, hopeful, unsure and so many more! These feelings can come in waves, individually or in combination. Ask for help. I reached out to my friends and family for support, asked for help when I needed it, tried to keep my exercise, eating and meditation routines in place for stability and grounding, and yes, I allowed myself so called mini-freakouts as necessary.

The book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes helped me understand the road map of change and transition. Although the book is on the older side, I found it quite useful. I came to learn change is not a linear process, much to my analytical mind’s chagrin!

Open Your Mind to New Possibilities

This is a great time to open your mind to new possibilities.  Do some research. The web has options for researching the best careers to match what you love to do. Head to the library or ask friends for recommendations and do some reading on the subject. There are many good books out there, like the classic book, What Color is Your Parachute?, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

When I first considered the possibility of other careers, I had about 12 years in to my stint in HR. I explored professional organizing and asked for an informational interview with the woman who eventually hired and trained me. There was a gap of 4 years before I actually made my career change and began working with her, but the interview helped me understand the field in greater depth, including the pitfalls and challenges. I would encourage you to reach out to others in the profession(s) you are interested in – take them out for coffee and pick their brains on the ins-and-outs of working in that field.

For additional insight, consider taking a personality test like Myers-Briggs. When my children were in high school the guidance counselors used the test results to offer suggestions on what careers might match their strengths and interests.

Know Your Priorities

Whether you are exploring new opportunities while you are still employed, or balancing this with finding temporary employment because of a downsize or layoff event, there are some things in your life that will likely need to take a backseat.  For me, I found that my general paperwork fell behind. I was keeping up with the bills and dealing with any important actions, but the filing, reading materials, and other papers began piling up, and things didn’t always get put back in their designated homes.  Eventually it irritated me enough for me to make time to focus on cleaning it up, but it was many months before I felt like I was on top of things again.

Things will calm down. Until then, take a look at your current priorities, determine if any can be eliminated or delayed. Check-in with yourself and any affected family members often to be sure that things don’t fall through the cracks.  Eventually, you will get things back on track, or you may find that you need additional help to get there like a professional organizer who can help facilitate the process with you.

Have fun exploring new options, and keep in mind, attitude is everything. Let me know how these tips work for you as you navigate a major shift in your life and if you have any tips to add, share in the comments below!

About Melissa Belliard

Melissa is committed to helping her clients find the organizing system that works for them, with compassion and creativity. She has been helping her friends and family get organized for years, and loves decluttering closets and cabinets, especially for empty nesters and folks who are downsizing. Melissa brings her 16 years of experience as a Human Resources professional to her work, including compassionate listening, leadership, and creative problem-solving skills. Melissa is also a part-time massage therapist, and has raised two great kids. She loves being out in nature, listening to music and dancing, as well as bringing women together in community.

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